What does it look like under a microscope?

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    Richard Harley

    I am wondering if anyone can show me microscope images of the edge of a chisel before and after sharpening to Paul’s standard – not too high magnification (maybe x 10 or 15).

    I think it might be really helpful in trying to learn Paul’s chisel sharpening method. I use diamond stones up to 1200 grit and a strop with 15000 g polishing compound; I go through all the sharpening and stropping motions then try all the tests of sharpness such as shaving forearm or slicing paper but in the end my tools don’t seem to cut quite as well as his do in the videos. Therefore I’m after some more objective method of comparison. Magnified images would show just how even his polished surfaces are and how near to that level I am getting.


    Of course the real proof of the pud is what you can make and I’m reasonably happy with that but one is always after any improvement.

    David R.

    Hi Richard,

    I’m not sure it’s a matter of sharpness if you can shave hair with the edge. In my experience, I often fail to see the actual issue like twist in a board or a misconfigured plane. And with experience it becomes more natural to consider such things, notice them and even know how to deal with them.

    Best regards,

    from Germany


    Its probably more important how you strop. Doing that wrong will dull an edge faster than anything. And you will still see a mirror finish

    Bob LAGET


    Some time ago, I gave this url to a very interesting video:

    It’s not exactly what your request for, but I’m sure you’ll be interested by!


    Richard Harley

    Hello Bob. Thank you for the interesting video. As you say, does not answer my question. I’m still hoping for some microscope pictures which will give me more objective help to tell if my chisel/plane sharpening efforts, following Paul’s method, come anywhere close to what he achieves.

    All the best



    I agree with davidr — if your tools are shaving hair, the reason for the differences between your results and Pauls are not due to a failure of sharpening on your part. While improvement is always nice, if, again, your tools are shaving sharp, you’re probably past the point of diminishing returns and it would seem to me that your best path forward does not involve focusing on sharpening.

    Also, even if one of us had the images you want to see, I don’t think those images would offer any insights into your sharpening procedure unless you had your own images, taken at the exact same magnification, from the exact same angle, with the exact same lighting, etc, etc, etc.

    Just for idle interest, Brent Beach has some images on his website you might find interesting:

    Good luck!

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